Sword Blades with EIC markings
In the concurrent thread on British East India Co. pistols, I got to thinking about the swords of the Company. Many years ago when I was researching the EIC bale mark it was suggested that the only thing so marked as far as weapons were firearms.
Naturally I was wondering if these marks ever occurred on sword blades, as it is well known the VOC, Dutch East India Co. mark was well known.
I have a socket bayonet which has the EIC mark, the usual quartered heart with initials topped by the '4' , but that would fall into place with the firearms denominator.
I just noticed in Egerton (1880, p.118) a sabre blade with EIC mark and the date 1823 in gold, and from the Deccan.
I have seen M1788 British light cavalry sabre blades mounted on Deccani style tulwar hilts, having koftgari but no such markings.
Has anyone either seen or own examples of swords with EIC marked blades?
Anyone with Harding's reference or others which might have more info on this?
Salaams Jim, Excellent subject... Please see https://books.google.com.om/books?i...20marks&f=false for an interesting array of EIC naval swords and marks.
Ibrahiim al Balooshi
Thank you Ibrahiim, excellent link!
It is interesting to see the variations of hilt designs which indeed incorporated EIC motif etc. and these were undoubtedly commissioned by ranking officers privately.
As noted, we know that firearms were typically marked with the EIC logo (balemark), at least from the time of the so called 'Windus pattern" muskets produced 1771-1818.
Typically on the lock the EIC balemark was at the tail, along with the date (no dates applied until 1775) and the makers name forward of the hammer.
On the stock at the butt was the logo.
The balemark from 1771-1808 was the heart and 4. The transition of course was unclear but these dates the guideline.
From 1808-1839 the rampant lion became the balemark. Again this varied as the transition involved of course huge areas colonially.
What I am hoping to find is any example or evidence of sword blades, or perhaps dirks, bearing either of these balemarks.
Pictures of the blade of a 1796 Light Cavalry Officer's sword. Marked on the ricasso with 'Woolley & Deakin Sword Manufacturers to the Hon. East India Company'.
The blade is marked with the crest and motto (Auspicio Regis et Senatus Anglia) of the East India Company.
I only have Harding's single volume ' Introduction to EIC Smallarms', which does not mention swords at all. I can't comment on the original 4 vol. tome.
As you mention the bale mark was replaced by the rampant lion about 1808. Am I right in thinking that at this time British Gov't issue swords were also not marked with Gov't ownership. Perhaps it was simply thought unnecessary.
Fantastic Robert!! Thank you!
What a beautiful sabre . I saw this in my 'travels' last night as I searched for examples or evidence of any sword blade with EIC markings. This one is unusual as the blade motif does incorporate the logo. There is a conundrum with this one though......Wooley & Deakin were only in business with as that partnership for the years 1801-1803. It seems there has been disputing evidence to that, but cannot recall particulars.
The main thing is that you see the rampant lion at the top of the arms. At this time, EIC was still using the quartered heart bale mark, and in about 1808 began using the lion. Even then, its transition in use was rather slowly adopted.
I would suspect with this sword's blade as evidence, that Wooley and Deakin as partners clearly must have existed as such either later than 1803.....or more likely, the lion over the arms was a regular component of those arms and adopted as the logo as noted.
With officers, these swords were private purchase, and as the link attached by Ibrahiim shows, hilts often had EIC features, and the blades were of course highly decorated as seen here, just as those to regular officers of the British Army.
What I am trying to determine is if the rank and file weapons, or even the fighting weapons of officers if EIC, were stamped with either bale mark.
These marks were of course 'property' markings, and would have been placed only on 'issued' items. However, as seen, the firearm sector of equipment with its higher value in importance were indeed marked.
Back in about 1996 as I was researching EIC markings, I communicated with Mr. Harding as he was preparing to release his books first volumes.
In those conversations he indicated to me that the EIC did not mark sword blades, only firearms (including of course bayonets) .
I had not thought of this until going through Egerton and saw the entry (not illustrated) of a sabre blade with EIC marks and from Deccan. I estimate this would have been from the time of Seringatam (1799) or in the next decade and before the transitional confusion with these marking conventions.
Richard, thank you for your notes on this accompanying title, which is far more affordable and available than the huge 4 volume set, which is also horribly expensive! I appreciate the information that the book excludes information on swords, which prevents trying to pursue this by this reference.
It about 2010 there were rumors that Mr. Harding was researching to add a book on EIC swords, which would be exciting, but nothing has materialized.
Perhaps this thread will suffice on the topic in lieu :) in the meantime.
While it appears that no blades are marked with bale marks of either logo (or the more rare flaunched heart version)or at this point known, we do know that in many cases there may be acceptance marks or stamps.
There seem to be variations of Devanagari script or other such markings which might identify a sword to use in India, we do not know if these blades supplied to EIC were marked or recorded into arsenal stores
It would seem that only after the Mutiny (1857) and the end of the EIC, with then markings EIG (East India Govt) did such administrative methods come into use.
Richard, actually the British government really did not have ownership markings other than the BO (Board of Ordnance) and arrow, which were used up to post Crimean War. As far as I have known, while these were on equipment they seldom appeared on arms.
Mostly the weapons had inspection stamps, both edged weapons and firearms. The guns of course were typically marked TOWER on the locks and the crown in the earlier years, but that is a whole other area .
Thank you again Robert and Richard, I really appreciate the help on this, and hope we can continue this research. Somewhere out there I just know there must be a sword blade with an EIC bale mark!
We know the Dutch VOC had 'em :)
Taking on board the information contained in this thread, I put forward that my understanding of the term "bale mark" is such, that it represents the identification of a merchant, or merchant company in this case the EIC.
The sword you illustrate is marked (etched)with (by definition) a coat of arms; and this representation can be split into six different elements:
1. The shield of arms
2. The supporters
3. The crest
4. The wreath or torse
5. The motto
6. The scroll
Referring to the overall achievement as a crest & motto is not correct; it is a "coat of arms", and the lion 'crest' is only part of the coat of arms however, without a coat of arms there can be no crest.
The crest is only the lion holding the crown; the representation below the lion is the wreath or torse (not simply a line as sometimes described); the crest is described in heraldic terms as:
A lion rampant guardant Or supporting between the forepaws a regal crown proper.
When the crest is displayed in colour, the wreath is coloured alternately using the main metal colour of the shield (in this case it would be silver (Argent)), and the main tincture would be Red (Gules).
The scroll is the object on which the motto is displayed.
My particular area of interest is somewhat later than some of the items under discussion, and much to do with officers swords however, as yet I can definitely say I've not seen a sword bearing a bale mark. Having said that I do have three or four blades with EIC view marks.
Extremely well put Gordon!
I am in complete accord.
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